Today's Word for Pastors...
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Today's Preaching Insight...
God Our Hope In Ages Past
It is so tempting in a passage like Isa. 40:1-11 to read it immediately through the lens of the New Testament. But today I am going to try to avoid this temptation and look at it first and primarily in its original Old Testament context; as hard as that may be for a New Testament professor.
I love this text because the focus is on God and His grace. It is about His reliability in the face of Israel's unreliability. It shows God's loving faithfulness in spite of Israel's self centeredness and faithlessness. It's the kind of passage that helps me relax and fall back into God's arms and speak the words of Julian of Norwich with confidence: "all shall be well."
Here is the story. The Northern kingdom of Israel has fallen to the Assyrians. Assyria threatens to do the same to Judah. But God saves Judah from these oppressors as Isa. 22 makes clear. Throughout chapters 1-39 we read how Judah has spurned God not recognizing His gracious care of them. They have looked to everything and one for help but God. Even though God helped them and saved them they again and again they gave Him no thanks. They showed no humility. So God is not pleased with them.
In spite of all God's assistance to Israel Hezekiah is still afraid of Assyria. So in Isa. 39 we read about Hezekiah trying to impress messengers from the King of Babylon by proudly showing him all his treasures. It is likely that Hezekiah is trying to align Israel with Babylon in order to stave off any future threat from Assyria. Isaiah moseys over and asks 'who were those guys and what did they want?' Hezekiah is feeling more than a little bit uncomfortable and tells him they were from Babylon and I showed them all of my treasures.
Isaiah tells Hezekiah 'that was a bad move because your palace will be plundered and your descendants taken away to Babylon'. Hezekiah breathes a sigh of relief when he finds out that he will be spared (39:8). Babylon sees that Israel is rich and easy prey so a little later they march in and capture and plunder Israel.
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Illustration: Children and Television
The math teacher saw that little Johnny wasn't paying attention in class. She called on him and said, "Johnny! What are 2 and 4 -- and 28 and 44?" Little Johnny quickly replied, "NBC, CBS, HBO and the Cartoon Network!"
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